“I feel like I’m in such a hurry I don’t fully soak up the process,” lamented Soyoung L Kim, artist and writer, describing the preparation for her first solo art exhibit. Over lunch, we discussed all-things-creativity, including her professional journey, self-care and generating fresh ideas.
What if you’re not an artist? Finding creative solutions accelerates most careers. Creative thought, however, loves mental space. Lots of it. Inevitably, when you need it most, your inner-well-of-creativity, will appear to be dry. Frustratingly dry.
How can you rekindle and maintain that incredible energy? The answer might be having more than one creative love. Learn how a professional artist, faces the common challenges of getting unstuck and tapping her inner-genius, while juggling Mom-life.
Be Grateful & Creative Under Pressure
Although Soyoung regrets having limited creative time, she maintains a healthy perspective about it. She said, “There’s not enough time to write my novel, finish my essays and finish the last piece for my show. If I had more time I would enjoy it more.” I sighed, it’s a common theme! She said, “However, on the days when I get down about not being as far along as I want, I remember to be grateful…I do what I really love. I feel very blessed.” Her awareness, that working in a field she’s passionate about is a gift, helps fuel positive momentum.
Be Clear About What Lights You Up
Soyoung traveled an indirect path to her dream, “I got my MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago…after a failed undergrad in Education.” I laughed and had to learn more. She admitted, “I studied Education, not because it’s what I wanted, but because it’s what my parents wanted.” After working as a teacher’s aide, she knew it wasn’t right for her. She said, “…Those were difficult years. I was new to the United States and still figuring out who I was. My experiences outside of the classroom are the things I remember more. I went to school part-time while working as a flight attendant full-time. It was difficult to find the time to do anything besides work. Then 9/11 happened, and I was laid off from the airline. It forced me to write.”
Know When to Change Course
Soyoung explained, “I finished my first novel. An agent was interested but wanted me to rework it. By then, my husband and I were thinking about having kids. I decided to put things off until post-kids.” I asked how she moved her career towards visual art. She said, “…We moved from a small house to a bigger house in Wisconsin. It’s like that classic Virginia Wolf essay, about having ‘a room of one’s own.’ I had an entire attic to myself and could put out the paints and unfinished work and leave them out. The attic gave me a physical space where I could be free to play. Visual art has always been a way for me to not only experiment, and play, but to express emotions. I needed that in life when I found myself struggling in motherhood and struggling to write. The writing was on a laptop and I could put it away. With writing, it’s hard to leave the created world and return to reality. At that particular point in time, it was easier to enter the world of my imagination through my art.” I smiled. She added, “Writing is such a mental effort. You’re trying to figure out the right words. But with making art, it can be very therapeutic…sometimes my movements can be big and repetitive, almost mindless. Repetitive movement can feel relaxing in the moment. Right now, in my life, writing is a priority because I’m taking a class. But usually, I try to split my time evenly between art and writing. It varies; if I’m inspired in one area then I spend more time on that.” Amazing!
Make Time for Self-Care & Getting Unstuck
Soyoung has been making art and writing creatively most of her life. “If I get tangled in one area, then I can work on the other and it frees up that creative space. I don’t sit there with the writer’s block.” Brilliant! We discussed the challenges of getting into that state of flow, while working from home with kids. She admitted, “There are days I feel I could be doing this, but then I’m forced to stop. …But the benefit of when I’m forced to stop, mid-project, it makes it clear where to pick (back) up.” An important silver-lining.
I asked about self-care and how she fits it in. “I do ballet. What I love about ballet, it’s exercise but it’s also an art form. I go once a week in the evening while my husband watches the kids.” She also shared that she’s a big fan of unwinding in front of the screen. “I watch a lot of Netflix. I love to veg in front of the TV and watch movies. It also feeds my creativity. I watch after everyone has gone to bed… and yes, I deprive myself of sleep!” Many moms have shared the irresistible pull of unlimited quiet time at night.
How to find time for passion projects, and stay creatively charged, are among the most frequent questions I’m asked from other Moms. Many thanks to Soyoung L Kim, my talented friend and neighbor, for sharing how she keeps creative light in her life! Boston-area friends, please join me for the opening reception of Soyoung’s first solo show in the South End, ‘Marks of the Displaced’ February 1st, the details can be found on her website.
About Soyoung Kim
Soyoung, was born in Seoul, South Korea, but grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. She made her way to the USA for college and received her MFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Follow her latest adventures on Instagram, Twitter and by signing up for her newsletter on her website.